The new chemical and water security law would require site security plans and assessments.
Water and wastewater facilities in the top two risk levels would be required to implement “inherently safer technology” if it's technically feasible, cost-effective, and reduces risk without making other facilities along the supply chain more vulnerable. Although DHS has yet to define the tier structure, facilities that use chlorine gas and don't have adequate security measures in place likely will land in those top tiers.
“This is government gone wild. Any installation where you're using chlorine gas in an urban area ought to have proper containment and other security measures in place anyway,” argues Chuck Rogers, superintendent of the Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant in Thousand Oaks, Calif. The 14-mgd facility, which uses sodium hypochlorite for disinfection, is secured by triple-strand bared wire, cameras, and an alarm system.
If the $1 billion were distributed evenly per capita nationwide, Rogers' facility would receive about $300,000. “People who say they need a huge amount of money from the federal government to conduct risk assessments haven't been doing their jobs for the last decade,” he adds. “We all had fair warning on this. It's a gross waste of money.”
Stimulus formula shows up in revolving loan programs
The goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 have spilled over into annual appropriations on at least one front.
On Oct. 30, President Obama signed the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2996), which funds agencies including the EPA. This year, the agency is receiving $3.6 billion for water-sector infrastructure, including $2.1 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and $1.38 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).
More significantly, it includes a “green” provision from last year's massive economic stimulus bill.
From now on, states must spend one-fifth of their total allocation on green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements, or other environmental innovation. Additionally, 30% of each SRF must take the form of principal forgiveness, negative-interest loans, or grants to communities that can't afford to pay back conventional loans.
“It's a good thing,” says Carl Myers, assistant director of government affairs for the Water Environment Federation. “It's not just for stormwater detention and green roofs, but also for energy conservation and reuse, cogeneration, and water reuse and recycling. It's the types of things that water utilities like to do anyway.”